Op/Ed: Cops Are Quitting, Are The Unqualified Taking Their Place?


Cops Are Quitting, Are The Unqualified Taking Their Place? The following article has been written by Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr. It includes editorial content which is the opinion of the writer.


“I predict you will see a 70-80% flight or more of remaining cops who will find another job” (veteran prosecutor).

“The point of journalism is to hold people in positions of power accountable.” Ana Kasparian.

Are we seeing the very essence of the veteran police officer who is skilled in de-escalation and proper conduct and proactive policing disappearing? If so, what does that mean for the future of policing? What does it mean for our cities?


Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr.

Retired federal senior spokesperson. Thirty-five years of directing award-winning public relations for national and state criminal justice agencies. Interviewed multiple times by every national news outlet. Former Senior Specialist for Crime Prevention for the Department of Justice’s clearinghouse. Former Director of Information Services, National Crime Prevention Council. Former Adjunct Associate Professor of criminology and public affairs-University of Maryland, University College. Former advisor to presidential and gubernatorial campaigns. Former advisor to the “McGruff-Take a Bite Out of Crime” national media campaign. Certificate of Advanced Study-Johns Hopkins University. Former police officer. Aspiring drummer.

Author of ”Success With The Media: Everything You Need To Survive Reporters and Your Organization” available at Amazon and additional booksellers.

LET Radio Show and Podcast


I previously wrote, “Will National Crime Rise Because Of Memphis Police Reactions?”  Thousands of police officers are leaving law enforcement because of endless negative publicity based on the actions of a few. I questioned whether the exodus of cops would lead to more violence and crime. The bulk of increasing violence is mostly affecting young urban African Americans.

There is a ton of data from the US Department of Justice (third replication) indicating that force “or” the threat of force is two to three percent of the 54 million yearly encounters with one percent claiming that they were disrespected. The overwhelming number of those polled were satisfied with their law enforcement response.

Multiple polling data state that policing is one of the most respected professions in America regardless of demographics.

Yes, there are differences based on race, age, and political affiliation. Yes, there are a few cops that have done something wrong or criminal thus the negative news coverage was deserved. Yes, there are groups who have issues with respect during police encounters.

Yet law enforcement remains one of the most trusted and admired professions in America, far outpacing many occupations including journalism and Congress.

Questionable Journalism?

Recent articles and media reports based on the latest tragedy in Memphis have returned to an emphasis on “all” cops in America. The entire profession is once again under immense fire. None of the reports cited above were used in any of the articles I encountered. If you ignore the best possible data, it’s simply bad or biased journalism.

We seem to be very comfortable condemning well over a million officers and employees based on the actions of a few (the same as any “ism).” If you are capable of stereotyping over a million people based on the actions of a small number, you are intellectually capable of racism and sexism. There is no data suggesting that cops are any more culpable of misdeeds when compared to other professions.

If the point of journalism is to hold people in positions of power accountable, then who’s answerable for not offering the best available data? Who’s responsible for not providing the proper context? If it’s more than possible that violence and crime will increase because of a mass exodus of cops, who’s responsible for what follows?

What’s the future of urban policing if cops leave and are replaced by the less experienced or qualified?

The Skeptic asked people how many unarmed African Americans were killed by law enforcement in one year. The estimates ranged from 100 to 10,000 when the actual number was between 10 to 27 and even then, it doesn’t mean that suspects were not a deadly threat. According to the report, “Our overall findings indicate that people are uninformed regarding the available data on fatal police shootings in the US.”

(Al Pavangkanan)

Proactive Policing

The only modality with a proven track record of reducing crime is proactive policing based on hundreds of methodologically correct studies provided by the US Department of Justice.  No other crime control strategy comes close to the number and quality of the studies. Proactive policing means that police officers leave their vehicles to investigate suspicious behavior. This includes traffic stops. Proactive policing stops are dangerous and lead to numerous incidents where the use of force was employed.

Violence is Up

There’s no doubt that urban crime has increased considerably. Since 2019, homicides are up by 50 percent. Aggravated assaults are up 36 percent per the Major Cities Chiefs Association. The risk of violent street crimes rose by 40 percent.

If We Have A Ton Of Cops Leaving-Who’s Replacing Them?

Not a day goes by without media articles stating that cities do not have enough police officers and that response time to serious incidents is down considerably. We ask police officers to do more (i.e., foot patrols, community policing, red flag laws, school security) when they can’t perform basic functions.

Thousands of police officers have left the profession per the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

As one veteran prosecutor stated, “I predict you will see a 70-80% flight or more of remaining cops who will find another job.”

The Conversation

Report: Despite what the media says, low income and fragile community members want more police


The International Association of Chiefs of Police surveyed its members in 2019 and found that 75% were experiencing greater recruitment challenges, with 25% reducing or eliminating some services as a result.

Because staffing shortages involve agencies across the nation, and in many cases pit agencies against one another in competition for ever-decreasing pools of talent, it will likely require federal and state action to address effectively. President Biden has proposed $10.9 billion to help hire an additional 100,000 police officers over the next five years. Adding more officers will help, but so too will keeping officers in the profession, especially in the communities most impacted by historic increases in violent crime.

Associated Press

Former Memphis police recruiters told The Associated Press of a growing desperation to fill hundreds of slots in recent years that drove the department to increase incentives and lower its standards.

“They would allow just pretty much anybody to be a police officer because they just want these numbers,” said Alvin Davis, a former lieutenant in charge of recruiting before he retired last year out of frustration. “They’re not ready for it.”

The department offered new recruits $15,000 signing bonuses and $10,000 relocation allowances while phasing out requirements to have either college credits, military service or previous police work. All that’s now required is two years’ work experience — any work experience. The department also sought state waivers to hire applicants with criminal records (emphasis added). And the police academy even dropped timing requirements on physical fitness drills and removed running entirely because too many people were failing.

Many young officers, before ever walking a beat with more experienced colleagues, found themselves thrust into specialized units like the now-disbanded SCORPION high-crime strike force involved in Nichols’ arrest. Their lack of experience was shocking to veterans, who said some young officers who transfer back to patrol don’t even know how to write a traffic ticket or respond to a domestic call.

“They don’t know a felony from a misdemeanor,” Davis said. “They don’t even know right from wrong yet.”

Police Line

Do You Really Believe This Isn’t Happening In Cities Throughout the Country?

Respondents to my articles and national media appearances tell me that what’s happening in Memphis regarding unqualified officers is occurring in cities throughout the country prompting veteran officers to leave just to protect their careers or retirements.

I’m told that the issue isn’t solely having enough cops to provide basic services, it’s also a concern as to the new officers being unqualified for the job. Cities are having immense problems recruiting new officers.

The Police Executive Research Forum states that recruitment is down by 63 percent.

There are allegations that two of the Memphis officers who allegedly killed Nichols were found to have had previous brushes with the law.

Are we seeing the very essence of the urban veteran police officer who is skilled in de-escalation and proper conduct and proactive policing disappearing? If so, what does that mean for the future of urban policing or crime control?


We have multiple issues:

  1. Veteran cops leaving law enforcement per the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  2. In some (most?) cities, those leaving are being replaced by unqualified or under-qualified officers.
  3. Crime and violence are increasing in urban areas per the US Department of Justice and multiple additional sources.
  4. Some cities do not have enough police officers to offer basic services.
  5. Criminal arrests are plummeting at an alarming rate.
  6. Big city mayors are begging cops to return to proactivity and more arrests yet veteran officers who are willing are leaving.
  7. Like Memphis, does that mean that the complexities that come with proactive or special unit policing will fall to the unqualified or inexperienced?
  8. And finally, when the best available data states that cops do their jobs well without excessive force and polls hold law enforcement in high regard, why do we have incessantly negative media and advocates painting “all” cops as brutal? Why do we allow such stereotyping to exist?

Do incessantly negative media reports focusing on American policing (thus all cops) create a false narrative that results in officers leaving by the thousands, inadequate and unready recruits taking their place, and growing violence that will literally destroy cities?

If “the point of journalism is to hold people in positions of power accountable,” are media organizations looking in the mirror for creating a false narrative?

I have no data to “prove” that what happened in Memphis is occurring in other high-crime urban areas, yet the number of media accounts focusing on the loss of police officers tells me that the unqualified or under-qualified may be necessary to fill empty positions.

No one is excusing the actions of bad or disrespectful cops. We must be held accountable. We must serve all regardless of who they are. We must understand historic mistreatment.

But if the data suggests that most cops are doing well while responding to high-stress and dangerous calls, why the attack on everyone in the profession?

Sipes: Despite what the media says, crime and violence harshly impact most Americans

See More

See more articles on crime and justice at Crime in America.

Most Dangerous Cities/States/Countries at Most Dangerous Cities.

US Crime Rates at Nationwide Crime Rates.

National Offender Recidivism Rates at Offender Recidivism.

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Op/Ed: Cops Are Quitting, Are The Unqualified Taking Their Place?

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